homeless men attacked

Suspect Wanted for Killing Homeless Men in DC, NYC

"The work to get this individual off our streets before he hurts or murders another individual is urgent," the mayors of D.C. and New York City said in a joint statement

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What to Know

  • A man is suspected of shooting five homeless men in D.C. and New York City this month, killing two victims.
  • Members of the public are asked to check video and photos of the suspect and contact police if they have any information. The reward for information that leads to his arrest is up to $70,000.
  • The mayors of D.C. and New York City urged all homeless people to seek shelter while the search for the killer is ongoing.

Editor's Note: D.C. police say a suspect in the killings was arrested early Tuesday morning. Here's the latest.

A multistate manhunt is underway for a suspect who police say shot five homeless men in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Two of the victims were killed, including a man found dead inside a burning tent in Northeast D.C.

The shootings occurred in Northeast D.C. and lower Manhattan. Three men, all believed to be experiencing homelessness, were found shot in Northeast D.C. earlier this month. One victim was found in a burning tent, having been shot and stabbed to death, according to D.C. police. In New York City, police believe the same man shot two homeless men on Saturday, killing one man.

The names of the dead were not immediately released.

D.C. police showed several up-close photos of the suspect during a news conference in the District Monday evening. Authorities wouldn't say when or where the photos were taken but said they were recent.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York Mayor Eric Adams pleaded for the public's help during the news conference and condemned the suspect as a "depraved" person who targeted vulnerable people.

"This is a cold-blooded attack. When you look at the premeditative action of this shooter, it sends a clear and loud message that we need the help from the public," Adams said.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said residents were already calling in with tips and he was confident authorities would soon identify and find the suspect.

"Every hour we are receiving calls, and calls, and more calls from residents," he said.

"Turn yourself in. We're coming for you. That's the bottom line. Our reach is far and wide," Contee said when asked what he would say to the suspect.

The two mayors urged all homeless people to seek shelter. In D.C. on Monday, police distributed flyers in the areas where the shootings occurred. Bowser said community outreach teams were also out informing people experiencing homelessness about their shelter options. She said anyone who needs transportation to a shelter can call 202-399-7093.

"We know this is a scary situation. We know that our unsheltered residents already face a lot of daily dangers and it is unconscionable that anybody would target this vulnerable population," Bowser said.

The Metropolitan Police Department, New York City Police Department and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are involved in the investigation.

Video distributed by D.C. police Monday morning shows the suspect. A bald man can be seen striding along the 400 block of New York Avenue NE.

D.C. and New York police also released photos of the suspect on Sunday.

Contee said the two departments linked their homicide cases to the unknown suspect after a captain in the Metropolitan Police Department, who is from Queens, New York, happened to be scrolling social media when he saw an image of the suspect in the killing there.

Ballistics evidence showed the same gun was used in both the D.C. and New York killings, Contee said. So far, ballistics has not tied the gun to any killings in other parts of the country, he said.

DC Homeless Men Shootings

The first victim was found shot on March 3 at about 4 a.m. in the 1100 block of New York Avenue NE. The second man was found shot on March 8 shortly before 1:30 a.m. in the 1700 block of H Street NE. Both were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, D.C. police said. 

On March 9, an officer was in the area of the 400 block of New York Avenue NE at about 2:55 a.m. when he saw a fire, police said. After DC Fire and EMS responders put out the blaze, authorities said they found the remains of a man.

“As a result of an autopsy, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was multiple stab and gunshot wounds,” D.C. police said.

Contee called the attacks "vicious" and "cowardly" acts, and said that the department was committed to bringing the gunman to justice.  

Anyone with information on the attacks should call police at (202) 727-9099 or text a tip to 50411. The reward for information leading to an arrest has increased to $70,000 total between the D.C. and New York police departments and the ATF.

NYC Homeless Men Shootings

Two homeless men were shot in New York City on Saturday, killing one of the men, our sister station NBC New York reports.

The first shooting occurred at about 4:30 a.m. on King Street near Varick Street in Manhattan. A 38-year-old man was shot in the arm while sleeping, police said. 

At about 5 p.m., police responded to a 911 call reporting that a man had been shot in the head and neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses later reported hearing gunshots hours earlier, at about 6 a.m.

The suspect appeared to have intentionally approached the men and shot them. One victim was sleeping in a sleeping bag when he was shot, police said.

According to police, security video showed the suspect, wearing all black and a black ski mask, approaching and shooting the man in the sleeping bag about 10 blocks away and 90 minutes after the first attack.

The death of a third man on Sunday was initially thought to be connected to the other attacks. NYPD officials familiar with the case later told NBC New York they do not believe the man’s death was related. An investigation found no evidence of a gunshot or stabbing, they said. 

NYC Mayor Eric Adams condemned the Saturday attacks as "horrific," and called the video chilling.

"We need to find this person, and we need New Yorkers to help us," he said.

Adams said a task force composed of police officers and a homeless outreach team would focus on finding unhoused people in the subways and other locations and would urge them to seek refuge at city-owned shelters.

The attacks were reminiscent of the beating deaths of four homeless men as they slept on the streets in New York’s Chinatown in the fall of 2019. Another homeless man, Randy Santos, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in those attacks.

Editor’s Note (March 14, 2022, 11:30 a.m. ET): The death of a man in New York City on Sunday is no longer believed to be connected to the investigation, NYPD officials said. A previous version of this story included the man’s death as part of the pattern.

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